Buying Blue is Making Me Blue

BuyBlue.org has a new, updated list of companies to help you support corporations that give their money to progressive political candidates. Sounds great, right? Well, it's a nice idea, but after browsing the list a bit, I can't really recommend it.

There's more to being a socially conscious shopper than this issue. I went to their listing for Starbucks, which is rated highly for their political donations... but every other area is "N/A." So no information is available, apparently, on the issues that have swirled around Starbucks around putting independent competitors out of business through predatory market-flooding practices, building a workforce of people with McJobs who are scheduled to the minute in shifts often only a few hours long, who are usually kept just below full-time status, their use of coffee grown in environmentally questionable ways and harvested with exploited labor, and so on.

The fact that there are blanks for this information tells me that Buy Blue's heart is in the right place. But the fact is that it takes a lot of work to collect this information... and that people have already been working at it.

If you'd rather not buy products that are manufactured by people in export zones in the Philippines or Vietnam held in a kind of indentured servitude where they don't make enough money to buy food... or if in general you don't like the idea that offshoring has been a nifty scheme for manufacturers to avoid labor laws... in other words, if you want to take some responsibility for what you buy... a far better resource is DC-based Co-op America. They have a ton of resources to help you be an informed consumer.

My suggestion to the Buy Blue folks is to hook up with groups like Co-op America that are already working on consumer education issues to help spread the information they've gathered on political donations through other channels.

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